Blue Valentine is hard to watch and riveting all at once. It’s real, it’s raw and it’s probably way more relatable to the masses than the equally hard to watch and riveting all at once Black Swan. That’s not to say that I personally loved the movie. It’s not exactly what you’d call entertaining. But it is a strong, honest and moving (albeit arty) flick.
Blue Valentine is about a couple whose marriage is disintegrating for all the reasons – tangible and intangible- that relationships sometimes collapse. There’s no defining moment. No adultery. No one person at fault. The relationship just isn’t what it was.
Ryan Goseling and Michelle Williams are the stars of this love story/tragedy. They play Dean and Cindy, a young married couple who spend a night away from their daughter in a lackluster attempt to save their marriage. Six year old actress Faith Wladyka is adorable and spot-on as daughter Frankie. She is the ‘every child’ and the one you fear for most as her parents struggle to reconcile their love for her with their growing estrangement from each other.
The movie intercuts scenes from the couple’s present-day struggles with scenes from the early days of their courtship, when love was in the air and the future held a heap of promise. Goseling and Williams truly get inside these characters to convincingly portray Dean and Cindy in both their happiest and darkest moments. And as the film progresses, you become better informed as to why the couple reacts the way they do to various characters and situations.
Blue Valentine cuts much deeper than the recently-released Rabbit Hole, yet it hasn’t gotten nearly the attention as “awards season” kicks into high gear. I will be most disappointed if Nicole Kidman gets an Oscar nod for best actress in Rabbit Hole and Michelle Williams is overlooked for Blue Valentine. Williams’ performance is far more believable.
The movie has a dark and indie vibe with camera work that feels (and probably often is) hand-held. The technique serves to bring the viewers into the more intimate, emotionally-charged scenes – one of which initially garnered this movie an NC-17 rating, though it was knocked down to ‘R’ on appeal. There is a lot of sex in this movie, but it’s not really gratuitous since those scenes help illustrate how the same acts can be construed as sweet, loving, sad, or painful as feelings change over time.
To be honest, the arty-minded guys in the audience seemed to like this movie significantly more than the gals. That’s fodder for a deeper discussion/debate for sure. Blue Valentine is not a feel-good movie. And it’s certainly not a Valentine’s Day movie – unless you’re on the verge of breaking up. So consider yourselves forewarned. I’m not sure this movie will still be around then anyway. It’ll have to make room for the romcoms… cause let’s face it, fantasy is far more fun to watch than reality.